It’s exciting times when you finally receive that new job offer you have worked so hard to achieve. It can take up to 3 months to reach the offer stage from when you first applied until you start your new job. You tweak your CV and covering letter for what feels like forever, potentially face weeks of waiting and you finally get the call to attend the interview. A second interview, two new outfits and another week or so of anxious waiting, you finally get the offer! Then comes the dreaded task of handing in your notice to your current boss (which gives us that night before stomach flipping feeling). So by the time that’s all done, quite frankly you deserve a nice long rest!
What if the worst happens?
What if your new employer writes to you to retract your offer? They tell you that your new role is no longer available or that they have lost a big contract so budgets are tight?
This is rare but can happen to some unlucky candidates and can have devastating effects. The feeling of rejection and the worry can cause havoc with your self-esteem as well as your finances as Chris an Engineer unfortunately suffered earlier this year. “I received a job offer and was delighted as it was a step up and was a more technical engineering role I had wanted to move into. I had completed 2 weeks of my notice and was training up my replacement on the job when I received a call from my new employer saying that the role was no longer available due to a downturn in business.” Chris came to me for advice in the hope to gain a new position quickly. He has been lucky enough to secure an interview with one of our clients but this is not always the case for everyone.
What am I going to do?
Occasionally when I interview candidates, I see gaps on CVs due to a retracted offer. These gaps are usually followed by a lower level temporary position while they continue their search. Candidates have told me that they have felt let down, worried about finances and embarrassed that they found themselves in this position. Many did not want to tell their current employer as they felt too ashamed and some were even in the process of training their own replacement! I have heard of people having to living off savings to cover bills while they resume their search.
So what are my legal rights?
Once an employer offers you a job, whether verbally or written, the offer forms a contract and therefore if an employer withdraws the offer they will have “breached” the contract. It may then be possible for you to sue your employer on the grounds of financial loss. WorkSmart from the TUC states “If a court decides that your contract was breached, it can order your employer to pay you damages or compensation. This is usually limited to the wages you would have earned during the contractual notice period.” Understandably, many people don’t want the hassle of pursuing a legal claim and just want to put the nightmare behind them.
It is worth remembering that there are times when a conditional offer is retracted if those conditions have not been met such as; satisfactory references or health record. In these cases, candidates are not able to take action.
What should you do?
Regardless of the reason for your retracted offer, you can still find yourself in a vulnerable and difficult position. The key is to not to panic. It is a good idea to let your current employer know (if you would return of course!) as there may not have already replaced you, or there may be another opportunity for you in the business. Like Chris who I mentioned earlier, some candidates reach out to agencies in these situations in the search for work and support. You also have to ask yourself the question; ‘if this is how they treat people, do I really want to work for them anyway!’ Take it as a lucky escape in many ways and re-focus your energy in getting back out there in the job market.